[Jean Piaget, Genetic Epistemiology]

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Jean Piaget
an outline biography

  Jean Piaget was born on August 9 1896 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, where his father was a professor of mediaeval literature. He was the eldest child in the family and took an early and serious interest in nature and shell collecting writing his first scientific paper, concerning his sighting of an albino sparrow, at the age of ten.

  A part time job in Neuchâtel's Museum of Natural History helped him to write a large number of other scientific papers - on Molluscs - while he was still in high school.

  Following his secondary education he proceeded to the University of Neuchâtel and received his Doctorate in Zoology in the year 1918. At the age of twenty-two in search of answers to BIG questions of existence, he became interested in psychology and spent a year in related studies in Zürich, Switzerland. During this year Piaget became familiar with the approaches to psychology of Freud, Jung, and others.

  In 1919 he relocated to the Sorbonne in Paris where he lectured in psychology and philosophy and began what developed into a long term series of studies into the development of cognitive abilities in children. His studies were not so much in the way of "intelligence testing" as they were investigations into the way children reasoned.

  In 1921 he took up a post at the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute in Geneva where he encouraged his students to join in further investigations of the reasoning of children. A number of books on child psychology were produced arising out of these investigations. In 1923 he married Valentine Châtenay who had been one of his students. The resulting children, two daughters, became the central subjects of further, joint, works on cognitive development in children.

  Piaget eventually began to concentrate his attention on the development of knowledge and labelled this area of study Genetic Epistemiology. His work became widely influential and its conclusions were drawn on internationally in the development of educational and other child related programmes. His work did much to give rise to the study of developmental psychology and of cognitive theory. He received numerous honorary degrees and other recognitions from Universities in many parts of the world. In 1950 his work was made more readily available through the publication of his Introduction to Genetic Epistemiology.

  In 1952 Jean Piaget took up a professorship at the Sorbonne. Other endeavours include his foundation of an International Center for Genetic Epistemiology (Centre d'Epistémologie Génétique) at the University of Geneva (1955) and the development of a School of Sciences (Institut des Sciences de l'Education) at the University of Geneva (from 1956).

  Jean Piaget was still researching, at the age of eighty-four, at the time of his death in Geneva on September 16 1980.


Genetic Epistemiology



Introductory quotations
Jean Piaget an outline biography
William Sheldon
Carl Gustav Jung
B.F. Skinner


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Jean Piaget
an outline biography